Row over dissident threatens broader China-US ties
US: The diplomatic row over Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng could
hurt Sino-US efforts to cooperate on Iran, Syria and key economic
issues, but both sides want to contain the fallout, experts said.
The dispute has sent a cloud over the annual Strategic and Economic
Dialogue that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton were conducting Thursday and Friday with Chinese leaders
In her opening remarks, Clinton did not mention Chen by name, but
told her Chinese hosts, including President Hu Jintao, that they cannot
deny the “aspirations” of their citizens “for dignity and the rule of
law.” In his own opening remarks, Hu called for the United States and
China to respect each other's concerns and warned that any worsening of
relations posed “grave” risks for the world.
On Thursday, Chen phoned in to a hearing organized by a US
congressional commission on human rights in China, appealing directly to
Clinton for help to reach the United States.
It was not clear whether the dispute has had an immediate impact on
the wide-ranging talks or whether it could hurt the longer-term
relationship between the world's two largest economies.
“It's impossible to predict going forward,” State Department deputy
spokesman Mark Toner told reporters when asked if the dispute would
affect the other areas of US-China relations. “But I think that... this
relationship is strong enough... where we're going to cooperate in areas
where we share common views, but we're also going to continue to talk
about tough issues.” US officials said they always raise alleged human
rights abuses when they meet with their Chinese counterparts, but
Beijing is particularly furious with Washington over its handling of
Chen's case. It has demanded a US apology after Chen -- who exposed
forced abortions and sterilizations under China's “one-child” policy --
escaped from house arrest and spent six days at the US embassy in
Beijing until he left on Wednesday.
The United States said Thursday it was in talks with Chen about his
future, after he expressed fears for his safety and pleaded to be taken
Bonnie Glaser, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and
International Studies, said she doubts the United States will give China
an apology for what it considers a human rights and humanitarian issue.
But she told AFP that China's decision to send Defense Minister Liang
Guanglie to the United States next week to meet Pentagon chief Leon
Panetta was a “good sign” that it wants to limit the row's impact on
broader ties. AFP